Thursday, July 28, 2011

Anniversary Redux It's an anniversary in more ways than one. Three years ago, we had already moved the majority of our stuff into the Four Mile House; we were busy wrapping up last details at the duplex and trying to find ways to get the moving company to pay for the stuff they'd broken, lost, or possibly stolen. A little more than two years ago, I was...updating this houseblog. I really can't believe it's been this long. But given what a huge milestone we're reaching this year--as of tomorrow, we will have lived in the 4MH longer than we've lived anywhere else in Pittsburgh, even if it's just by a day--I don't want to abandon this blog as a failed experiment.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, anybody who's still aware of this blog hasn't missed that much. We're not like the people from HGTV's House Hunters who completely transform their living spaces within a month of moving in. We've barely even painted; the only things I've painted, actually, have been the back porch railings and a few articles of furniture. I have made some progress on most projects, but not much; Adam's crazy work schedule has made it so he's unable to participate for long stretches of time, and I tend to get distracted by things that aren't terribly productive. But here is the status of some of our major undertakings:

*Attic: When it's not summer and ridiculously hot up there, I continue the taping and mudding at a snail's pace. The first coat is mostly complete, except for the places in the stairwell that are too tall to reach without scaffolding. A few renovation-savvy friends have offered solutions for how we can complete that frustrating last five feet or so, though, so I maintain hope that we'll be able to finish it at some point. We got a drywall saw and cut out the outline for an eventual knee-wall storage space, and my dad and I have plans to create an insulated door, but I have to install corner bead around the edges of the hole first. My father-in-law got me an orbital sander for my birthday, so when it cools off again, I will be making good use of it expediting the sanding process.

*Stripping: The paint situation in the 4MH looks a lot like it did in the duplex when we left it: in terms of trim and doors, I've stripped paint from a whole lot of little areas, but I haven't completed anything. We removed the cap from the newel post at the top of the stairs and stripped that, but it got a bit cracked during the removal, so it needs to be glued before it is stained. I've removed paint from an area of baseboard in the dining room, the majority of the tin fireplace screen, and a corner of the fireplace mantelpiece, and those are all going well. I've realized that it's infinitely easier to remove paint when it was put over varnish or stain. If it's on top of bare wood, it's almost impossible for me to remove completely. This is why I ultimately stopped trying to prepare the armoire from the annex for staining; we needed some extra kitchen storage, so I just painted it. The doors still need to be finished, but it works very well as a pantry. I'm still considering using chalkboard paint to make writing space on the front door panels, but I'll have to see how they turn out before deciding.

*Yard: Ugh. Seriously, right now...just ugh. It's been a wet and busy summer, and we are a sea of weeds. We've been in removal mode, but not replacement mode, so we have even more area for ugly things to take hold. We tore out the spindly little yew bush near the annex steps and planted a delphinium earlier this summer, but the delphinium is now dead and the invasives are knee-high in that little plot. We've taken out all but one juniper bush in the side yard, and there were Johnny Jump-Ups in that patch for a while, but they and the pansies in the front bed died when it got hot. My hardy mum that I'd had major hopes for also shriveled up. I'm a little discouraged about the yard right now, but we have big plans for next year. We're going to kill the grass in the front lawn and move our vegetable garden up there instead of having it on the edge of the woods above the patio. That's a major undertaking, and I'm very nervous, but that area is the best piece of land we have for gardening. We have a huge pile of newspapers for lasagna composting, a big tarp, and a Rototiller to prepare the land next spring. As for the former garden, I'd like to do a cottage garden/food forest thing with it. We've agreed on some dwarf apple trees if we can find them, and are trying to decide what else to put in.

There's more, but that's about all for now.

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